Answering concerns about gas drilling

Jul. 30, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Editor’s note: This letter is in response to the letter written by Bob Holder that appeared in Saturday’s Herald:

To the Editor:

The Mining and Energy Commission is writing the safety statutes that, once passed by the legislature, will regulate natural gas drilling in North Carolina. They are going through a series of public information meetings and seeking out the best practices that will benefit all. Granted, not everything is risk free, but it is safe to say that North Carolina’s drilling laws will be the best in the nation.

The concern over water usage, truck traffic, and “toxic” waste is hysterically overblown by those opposed to any form of energy independence. ... The gas industry is working to minimize water usage. The newest technology is the use of the plentiful, inert, environmentally friendly nitrogen gas that reduces the liquid fracturing fluids and is beneficial when used in shallow formations. Also, the introduction of carbon dioxide gas helps reduce the use of water-based fracturing fluids. In both cases, nitrogen and carbon dioxide gases greatly cut down the use of water and truck traffic.

Perhaps Mr. Holder is aware of a company in Greensboro that currently has on-site water treatment equipment at drilling rigs in West Virginia and Pennsylvania? By recycling water at the drill rig, this North Carolina-based company touts that their system reduces water usage by 80 percent and truck traffic by 90 percent.

A few months ago, the county commissioners received a presentation involving the potential of a woody bio-mass ethanol production facility locating in either Harnett or Lee counties. The presenters mentioned that the plant would need 200 tons of woody bio-mass each and every day the facility is in operation. That is 200 tons of woody bio-mass transported by trucks converging on the plant from within a 75-mile radius. Won’t this so-called renewable energy source be a heavy load on our infrastructure of roads? Natural gas drilling involves a relatively short window of months. This renewable energy source will require truckloads hauling up to 200 tons of woody bio-mass each and every day! Is this sustainable?

Let us not forget that the final product of highly flammable ethanol will need to be trucked out of the plant. What potential threat exists then?

Allow me the opportunity to provide Mr. Holder any number of online resources to overcome the propaganda that demonizes our potential for energy independence. He may contact me at

Kirk D. Smith

Vice Chairman

Lee County Commission